Monday, December 29, 2008

International Inaugural Ball to be Held in SW

Festivities surrounding the presidential inauguration will come to Southwest on Saturday, January 17th in the form of the International Inaugural Ball. Inner Caucus Entertainment, Inc., along with Howard University Radio (WHUR), Hidden Beach Recordings, and Knockboyz Productions will host this ball at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. Tickets are $150 and the event will last from 7:30 PM - 3:00 AM. The L'Enfant Plaza Hotel is located at 480 L'Enfant Plaza. Check the website for more details.

(The above photo is of the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel taken in December 2008.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

SW Waterfront One of WBJ's Top Stories

As I predicted on Sunday, the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only) has listed the Southwest Waterfront as one of its top Commercial Real Estate development stories of the year. From the article:
A team led by PN Hoffman Inc. and Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse spent two years getting control of a site on the Southwest waterfront and lining up partnerships before asking the city to contribute its long-promised portion of land for the project.

The development offers 700 residential units, three office buildings, three hotels, more than 300,000 square feet of retail, a maritime museum and 10 acres of public space, including four piers — an entire new neighborhood for Southwest D.C.

After months of fits and starts, D.C. Councilman Kwame Brown, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, and Neil Albert, the deputy mayor for economic development, came together on an agreement the council passed unanimously during its last day of voting for the year. Next step for the development team: getting financing.

Next week, Southwest...TLQTC will compile a list of the top Southwest stories of 2008.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays from Southwest...TLQTC!


MPD has gotten into the holiday spirit by decorating the entryway to the 1st District Headquarters on 4th Street.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Updated Town Center Apartments Photos

Windows are starting to be installed in the South tower of the former Town Center Apartments. The North tower was renovated earlier in 2008 and is now called 1001 at Waterfront.



The side of the South tower facing the courtyard is first to receive new windows. Even more of this facade has received windows since I took this photo back on December 19th. These windows look different than the ones on the renovated North tower and resemble the new windows installed at The View at Waterfront on the west side of Waterfront Station.



Here is a view of the South tower from M Street. This side of the building hasn't received windows yet.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Email from Syphax Village Condo Association

Southwest...TLQTC received the following email from Ann Allen, President of the Syphax Village Condo Association:

Neighbors, Family, and Friends are invited to attend a Health Care Community Discussion.

WHEN: Monday, December 29, 2008
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Syphax Village Community Room
1322 Half Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

Your Health Care questions and shared personal stories will be submitted to the Obama-Biden Transition Health Policy Team for consideration, as they draft an affordable health care plan for all Americans. Please RSVP asap to: ann_g_allen@hotmail.com or (301)537-7985

*We may have a visit from Sen. Tom Daschle [nominee for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services] or the Press. Thank you for your participation.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

WBJ Chock Full of Southwest-Related Articles

In addition to the news that Arena Stage will receive $10 million to facilitate construction of the new theater, the WBJ reports (subscribers only) on the unanimous approval by the D.C. Council of the transfer of land along the Southwest Waterfront to the Hoffman-Struever team. From the article:

Now D.C.-based PN Hoffman Inc. and its partner, Baltimore-based Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, will start the new year with a huge challenge: landing financing for a project that could entail 770 housing units, 700,000 square feet of offices, three hotels, 280,000 square feet of retail and 150,000 square feet of cultural attractions. “This very important project will be a landmark for our region and carries enormous responsibility,” said Hoffman, chief executive officer, in a statement released by the development team. “Our collective concern for the success of this project is very real, and we are pleased that all sides have come together. We can now focus on the matter at hand — moving this vision forward.”
The third story in this week's WBJ was an editorial (subscribers only) on the delays in getting the land transfer through the D.C. Council. From the editorial:

It’s not clear how the delay will affect the development team’s ability to get financing in this troubled market. Chances are, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. But symbolically, the kerfluffle in the Wilson Building speaks volumes: How can the city continue to ask private developers to invest time and money in risky projects when it repeatedly beats them down? Our president-elect has earned the nickname “no drama Obama” for his unflappable nature, his ability to play politics at a level high above pettiness and for his focus on the big picture. Perhaps D.C.’s officials will be inspired to emulate these qualities, remembering that turf wars are usually more about ego than substance and that political grandstanding is not leadership.
I bet that the Southwest Waterfront drama will rank as one of the top stories of 2008 for the WBJ. Speaking of which, Southwest...TLQTC will put together a list of top Southwest news stories of the year during the week between Christmas and New Year's. Stay tuned!

(Photo is of the Maine Avenue fish market at night)

Culture News

- Arena Stage receives additional $10 million in funding from the D.C. Council, according to an article from this week's Washington Business Journal. This is in addition to the $5 million it received from the city back in 2006. Construction is moving along and the new Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is set to open by 2010. As a matter of fact, Stage Banter: The Arena Stage Blog reports that there was a "Topping Out Celebration" on December 13th. (The rendering is the new Arena Stage from the Arena Stage website)

- The Corcoran Gallery of Art is offering free admission (normal admission is $14) to residents of ANC 6D on Friday, December 26th at the second annual Randall Neighbor Day 2008. ID is required in order to prove residency. The Corcoran is located at 500 17th Street, NW. I went last year to see the Annie Liebowitz and Ansel Adams exhibits, and both were excellent. This year, in addition to the permanent collection, there are special exhibits, including Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power and Wounded Cities Portraits by Leo Rubinfien. Randall Neighbor Day was one of the community benefits that the ANC negotiated with the Corcoran as a part of their PUD submission last year. Southwest...TLQTC posted back in November that the Corcoran's development partner Monument Realty pulled out of the Randall School deal, but the Corcoran was looking for a new partner.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Updated Waterfront Station Photos

It appears that the west tower of Waterfront Station is winning the race to the top. Back in October, the east tower was rising out of the ground faster than the west tower. By next spring, both towers should reach their full height of eight stories. The following photos show the progress that has been made over the past two months.



This is the site of the west tower back on October 11th of this year.


Here is the west tower as of December 14th. Construction has reached the 4th floor.


This photo of the east tower was also taken on October 11th.



Here is the east tower of Waterfront Station on December 14th. Construction on this tower is only at the third floor.



The 4th Street corridor back on October 11th.


The 4th Street corridor is more pronounced as of December 14th.



Support beams hold up the sidewalk along M Street.


The two office buildings and the reopened 4th Street should be ready by March 2010, while the new urban lifestyle Safeway should open in May 2010.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Updated Patriots Plaza Photos

Construction at Phase II & III of Patriots Plaza, the office complex being developed by Trammell Crow, at 4th & E Street is well underway. Phase I was completed back in 2005 and is fully leased with federal tenants, including FEMA. In total, the three buildings equal 1 million square feet of office space. Patriots Plaza is across the street from MPD District 1 Headquarters, which will soon move to the former Bowen Elementary School and be replaced by the city's new CFL.



This is the Phase II building, when it reached ground level back in June 20, 2008 .




This photo from December 7, 2008 shows the Phase II building at the 12th floor, stepped back due to the building's size.




This photo from December 7, 2008 shows the Phase III building reaching the 7th floor. To the right is the edge of the Phase I building.


Phase II & III are scheduled to be completed in 2009 and are seeking a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. So far, no tenants have been lined up yet for those buildings.

Special ANC 6D Meeting Scheduled

Date: December 22, 2008
Time: 6pm
Location: ANC6D office at 1501 Half Street, SW
Topic: Discussion on the request to issue a temporary ABC license to a new establishment called Hogates by Kristina, at the site of the former H2O at 800 Water Street.

SW Waterfront is the Talk of the Town

Since the D.C. Council passed a resolution on Tuesday allowing the transfer of land along the Southwest Waterfront from the city government to the Hoffman-Struever team, DCMud has posted two stories about the project (here and here). I wrote a comment after the first post lauding the fact that the development could now move forward, but expressed some concern over the credit markets and whether or not it would affect the timing of the project. The second DCMud post was an interview with Scott Seaman from PN Hoffman, and at the end of the post, my concern about obtaining financing and timing was addressed:

Still, planning is still embryonic. And given that the project isn’t likely to begin construction until at least 2012 – not to mention the belt-tightening state of the economy – is seems reasonable to wonder where and when the first of Hoffman-Streuver’s cash will be spent. “The next two years will be focused on completing the design of the project, working with the community, and submitting for the PUD,” says Seaman. “We are confident that the capital market will have improved by the time we are ready to put a shovel in the ground.”
Back in September, Elinor Bacon from ER Bacon Development, one of the development partners of the Southwest Waterfront, said at a SWNA meeting that construction would begin on phase one in 2011. From the DCMud post, it sounds like that date has been pushed back to 2012...

(The above photo is the Maine Avenue corridor taken in October 2008.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Construction Halted at Potomac Place Tower

The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers has another local casualty. Construction at Southwest's only actively marketing condominium project, Potomac Place Tower (PPT), has been stopped for over a month. Lehman was the financial backer of PPT's developer, Monument Realty, so when Lehman filed for bankruptcy in September, PPT lost its funding, including the ability to pay Dietze Construction, the general contractor for the project. As a result, Dietze placed a lien on PPT and construction stopped. Also, residents of PPT recently received certified letters stating a sub-contractor was placing a lien on individual units.




Potomac Place Tower at 800 4th Street.


PPT was originally built as apartments in 1959 as a part of the Capitol Park development, the first residential project built during urban renewal in Southwest, and was designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith. Monument purchased Potomac Place in 2001 and built two condo projects on the building's parking lots and adjacent park in 2004 and 2005. They began converting the existing 400-unit building to condos in 2006. Monument is in the process of finding a new financial partner, so renovations can continue and units can go to settlement. In the meantime, sales continue at PPT. Potomac Place Tower has been one of the fastest selling condo projects in the District, selling approximately seven units a month since sales began in 2006. Most condos are lucky these days if they can sell two units a month.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Council Meeting Still In Progress Over SW Waterfront

The D.C. Council began their final meeting of the year at 11 am and at hour 12 of the meeting, there's discussion on the Southwest Waterfront parcels transfer. The Southwest Waterfront Disposition Third Revised Disposition Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2008 was far down on the agenda. Stay tuned for when (if) the resolution passes tonight.

Update @ 10:42 pm: The resolution passed! There was no roll call vote, but it sounded like it was unanimous. See my prior posts here, here, here, and here for some background on the drama related to the land transfer.

Update #2: Here's a WBJ article on the resolution's passage.

Update #3: Here's PN Hoffman's press release.

The photo is a model of the northern portion of the redeveloped Southwest Waterfront (phase II), which includes the Maine Avenue fish market.

Library Architect to Speak

The Washington City Paper reports that London architect David Adjaye will be at the Matthews Memorial Baptist Church in Anacostia at 6pm this evening. Adjaye was chosen by the DC Public Library to design the new Washington Highlands branch library in Bellevue back in October. According to the Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library Project website, the design process should be complete by Summer 2009, with construction taking 18-20 months. By Spring 2011, the new library should be open. An interim library will be open for the community while the new one is built.

Deal Reached in SW Waterfront Land Transfer

In Monday's Washington Business Journal, there's an article which states a compromise has been struck between DMPED and the D.C. Council's Economic Development committee over the transfer of land along the Southwest Waterfront. From the article: "...the administration submitted a new bill that would require the project conform to affordable housing requirements previously passed by the D.C. Council, that the Hoffman-Struever team submit a financing plan to the council in May, that the land not be sold to another developer, and that small, local businesses maintain their stake in the project. All those requirements were included in the land deal between the administration and the developers, said Brown, chair of the Economic Development Committee, but having them 'memorialized' in the law would prevent them from being changed without council approval. 'We’re just saying that if you amend anything in the [land disposition agreement], you can’t amend these items' without the council, Brown said. Brown didn’t get everything he wanted, such as an independent appraisal of the land’s value, but said he was 'satisfied that the administration now has agreed to make sure that all the community benefits are preserved and that the residents are going to get what they are promised.'" The D.C. Council meets later today for their final meeting of 2008, and it's expected that this compromise bill will be passed at that meeting.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

January Issue of the Southwester is Available

Here's a link to January's issue of The Southwester.

Shuttle Bug Route Map Released

The new free Shuttle-Bug service will start operations on Wednesday, December 17th. Southwest...TLQTC reported back in November that the service would start last week, but there was a delay due to the jersey barriers that were placed in front of the Safeway. The Shuttle-Bug Route Map at the top right corner shows the route and hours of operation. Whenever I see a Circulator bus, Cajmere's "It's Time for the Percolator" always gets stuck in my head for at least a half hour. Now, with the Shuttle-Bug, I'm already hearing "Jitterbug" from Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" in my head. The public transportation soundtrack in my head keeps expanding! So far, no songs come to mind when I see a Metrobus...

National Mall on Inauguration Eve: No Camping!

The Washington Post reports that the Feds are forbidding people from camping out on the National Mall on the night before the presidential inauguration. From the article: "To accommodate the crowd, the entire Mall is being opened to inauguration spectators for the first time, with Jumbotrons showing the noontime ceremony at the Capitol. Sgt. Robert LaChance, a U.S. Park Police spokesman, said that it is 'not legal to camp on the Mall' and that tents will be banned. Although the Mall is open 24 hours, it might be swept in a check for bombs during the night, he said. 'What we encourage people to do is come once public transportation is open,' he said. Metro will start running trains at 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day, a federal holiday in the District. Unlike at the Capitol or on the parade route, backpacks, chairs and strollers will be permitted on the Mall, he said. People can also take food and coolers there. But authorities are discouraging people from bringing many items on Metrorail because trains will be jammed." A pitched tent on the Mall could have been a cheap alternative for people compared to some of the accommodations offered on Craigslist.

Friday, December 12, 2008

More on SW Waterfront Drama

In today's Washington Business Journal, there's an article (subscribers only) giving some background to the delays in getting the Southwest Waterfront parcels transferred from the city to the Hoffman-Struever development team. The delay stems from a disagreement between At-large Council member Kwame Brown and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert. From the article: "The delay over the Southwest waterfront involves a bill that would allow the mayor to convey 16 acres to a development team led by D.C.-based PN Hoffman Inc. and Baltimore-based Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse. After complaining he had not received the full agreement from the mayor over the summer, Brown scheduled an Oct. 8 hearing on the bill. Citing the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, he adjourned the hearing and took no action until the meeting with the council chairman. Before that meeting, Brown said he had no confidence the developers could execute the project in this financial environment. He also said the affordable housing component is inadequate and the equity offered to the team’s small, local and minority-owned companies is a 'slap in the face' to them, even though four of their executives testified that they are pleased with their involvement in the project. 'I fundamentally have issues with a number of areas of this transaction,' Brown said...Although Brown eventually agreed to hold the hearing, he still maintains that Albert and his team 'don’t really care how projects get done. They just want them to get done. I want to make sure that they actually benefit residents.' He reconvened the hearing, he said, because 'I don’t want to be seen as the one holding up the project.'" That hearing was held yesterday at the Wilson Building. Once I get a chance to listen to it, I'll report any new and interesting developments.

Update: The WBJ has another article from Friday that says Council member Brown wants to change some of the terms of the land transfer. From the article:"...Brown is expected to propose new measures to protect affordable housing, require an independent appraisal of the land value, create a deadline for the developers to get a financing commitment and allow the land to return to District control should the development fail. He was vetting the idea with fellow council members Friday afternoon." Brown wants to introduce these changes using emergency legislation at the Council's last meeting of the year on December 16th. The drama continues!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Email from Safety Walkers

The following is an email sent by Saadia Athias, a resident of SW...

Hello Safety Walkers and Community

Last Saturday December 6, 2008 our community Safety Walkers met at 800 4th Street SW, at 3:30, it was our third walk. Our plan was very successful despite a few delays to coordinate with MPD, however 1st District sent over five patrol officers and a patrol car who accompanied [us] on the safety walk. We were also joined by our community councilpersons and representatives from the Mayor's office.

This week we explored G Street between 4th and 3rd and continued to the end of the cul-de-sac, where we explored the dangerous pathways and the perilous cut thru from Market Inn that ends on South Capitol in the "$5.00 Parking Lot”. Also the back path from 4th Street was noted as highly unsafe. It was ongoing about how treacherous that area is for pedestrians and the patrol officers noted those areas that need attention.

We headed down G Street and 7th Street, where residents pointed out three year old graffiti, on light posts and other notable concerns at the bus stops. At that time it started snowing, but all of the walkers remained with the group. We arrived at The Parade of the Lighted Boats, at 600 Water Street around 4:45 that afternoon; (between Channel Inn and Gangplank) to support the neighborhood event and to spread the word and recruit other Safety Walkers.

We ended the tour with [a] wish list for Santa for safe streets and the photo was given to all of the walkers. The enthusiastic walkers sought refuge from the cold and snow at Cantina Marina, and enjoyed their star gazing view of the procession of boats and hot chocolate. We returned to 800 4th Street, SW at approximately 5:30 pm.

If you live or work in SW please come join us for future walks! We meet every Saturday at 5 pm at 800 4th St. SW as we will this Saturday, December 13, 2008. Please spread the word, and feel free to forward this email to all Southwest friends, tenant associations, landlords’ property managers and neighbors in an effort to promote crime prevention and awareness in Southwest.

Thank you,

Saadia Athias

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Council Committee Hearing Set for SW Waterfront Transfer

The Washington Business Journal reports that DC Council member Kwame Brown, chairman of the economic development committee, will reconvene a long-delayed hearing to discuss the legislation transferring the Southwest Waterfront parcels from the DC government to the Hoffman-Struever development team. According to the article, the meeting will be held tomorrow at 12:30pm in the Wilson Building. Read the article for more on why the meeting and subsequent transfer has been delayed over the past few months.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Bloggers are Saying About Southwest

- DCMud posts a story on parks that are planned around the District. The post briefly mentions the park space planned at the Southwest Waterfront. The above model shows the public park planned on the south portion of the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment. The building in the middle of the green space is St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, which isn't a part of the redevelopment. The roof of Arena Stage is also visible on the top left corner of the model.


- DCist reports that public meetings will be held over the next couple of weeks to discuss the city's Neighborhood Circulation Study. According to the website, the focus of the study is: " Identify current deficiencies in neighborhood transit connectivity; Improve local bus services to enhance neighborhood circulation as well as connectivity; Identify new neighborhood services which will enhance circulation and connectivity; and, Complement the long-range growth of DC’s transit system." The Bellevue area will have its meeting on Tuesday, December 16th at 6:30pm at The Specialty Hospital of Washington -Hadley located on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Another Traffic Advisory

DDOT released a traffic advisory today about the closing of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge on Sunday morning for testing of the swing span.

Arena Stage Progress Photos

The new Arena Stage is coming along nicely at 6th Street & Maine Avenue. During the past month, the "Cradle" has continued to rise on the northern portion of the construction site. The first photo was taken in October 2008 and the second was taken in late November.




This is the 6th Street frontage of the Arena Stage site taken on October 11, 2008.



This is the 6th Street frontage of the Arena Stage site taken on November 22, 2008.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Road Construction News

Two traffic advisories from DDOT regarding road construction in Southwest: one of the eastbound lanes of D Street is closed until April 2009 while overhead work is done on the 11th Street bridge near L'Enfant Plaza. Also, starting this evening, at least one southbound lane of I-395 (SE-SW Freeway) will be closed each evening for the next three weeks due to the rehabilitation of the 9th & 10th Street bridges.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Two Upcoming Events

- Parade of Lighted Boats: The Washington Waterfront Association invites all to attend the annual Parade of Lighted Boats in the Washington Channel on Saturday, December 6th, 4:00pm, Flotilla at 5:00pm. Come join Santa Claus as he lights the Christmas tree in the park between Channel Inn and Gangplank (The 600 block of Water Street SW). Enjoy refreshments, music and photos with Santa! Toys for Tots collection boxes are available from the waterfront businesses Note: Please bring brand new unwrapped items for toddlers through 17 year-olds.



Imagine it's night time and the boats are lit up...that's what the parade will look like on Saturday.


- ANC 6D meeting: The next meeting of ANC 6D will be held on Monday, December 8th at 7pm. The meeting is located at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church (600 M Street). Southwest-related issues include street closing for the Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers Race for Hope in May 2009, a thank you letter for lighting at the Arena Stage construction site, support for the SW Child and Family Services Walk-In Screening Clinic, and an update on the community benefits provided by the Corcoran.

Meeting Planned for Firehouse Site Proposals

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development tells Southwest...TLQTC that there will be a meeting in January where the three development teams vying for the DCFD Engine 13 parcel and nearby vacant lot will present their proposals to the community. See my post from October for the list of developer teams and a general description of the proposals for the sites. Once an exact date and time is set for the meeting, I'll post it here. The Google Earth map above shows the location of the two parcels.

South Capitol Project is Recipient of Neighborhood TIF

The Washington Business Journal and DCMud report today that three DC retail projects were awarded neighborhood tax increment financing (TIF). Up until recently, most TIF funds were only available for downtown projects, but the city is looking to revitalize blighted neighborhood commercial corridors using TIF. One of those projects is located in Bellevue, along South Capitol Street on the east side of the Anacostia River. From the WBJ: "CityInterests LLC will get $8.8 million for a 530,000-square-foot $108 million project to replace South Capitol Shopping Center, a strip of stores in the 4000 block near the District’s southern tip that currently includes Domino’s Pizza, Mai’s Nails, a liquor store and Jackson Hewitt tax service. It would include 220 residential units, 85,000 square feet of office space, 500 parking spaces and 47,000 square feet of retail. Chris LoPiano of CityInterests said he has a letter of intent for 50,000 square feet of office space and is in negotiations with a pharmacy and plans to open a small grocery store as well."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Delays and Progress in the Neighborhood

In today's Washington Post, there's an article describing the slowdown in construction around the Washington metro area due to the credit crunch. The Randall School project is mentioned in the article. From the article: "A half-mile from the ballpark, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and developer Monument Realty intended to turn what was once a public school and then a homeless shelter into an art school and apartments. But Monument withdrew in August, as its equity partner, Lehman Brothers, collapsed, leaving Corcoran to find another developer." Southwest...TLQTC reported on this story back in November. Another victim of the delay at Randall School is the old Friendship Baptist Church site (AKA Square 643) at 734 1st Street (H Street & Delaware Avenue). Developer Steve Tanner has plans to renovate the historic church into office space and build a residential component behind the church, which has been in the works since at least 2003. The timing of delivery, though, is dependent on the completion of the Randall School project. Now that the Randall School is delayed, Tanner will have to wait to see who will be the new developer partner of the Corcoran. The old Friendship Baptist Church is over 100 years old and was one of the few structures saved when Southwest was razed during urban renewal in the 1950s. According to the Cultural Tourism DC website: "In December 1902 the congregation dedicated a new church at 734 First Street, SW (at H Street). The eclectic Victorian style structure, built by James A. Boyce over a 12-year period, had Romanesque, Gothic Revival, and Queen Anne elements. A name change -- to Friendship Baptist – in June 1905 followed the congregation’s move...In September 1965 it celebrated its 90th anniversary and dedicated a new building at 900 Delaware Avenue, SW. The old Friendship Baptist Church at 734 First Street, SW, was designated a DC Historic Site on May 27, 2004." A rendering of the site is above - the white church is the existing building and the Shalom Baranes-designed 7-story residential addition is at the rear of the church (rendering courtesy of Steve Tanner).


At least one major Southwest project is moving ahead. Waterfront Station received construction financing in September to build the two new office buildings as a part of phase one of development, but the fate of the adaptive reuse of the old EPA towers to residential is unclear.





The rendering above is the metro plaza in front of the new SW Safeway under construction at Waterfront Station, courtesy of Vornado.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Guardian Angels Descend on Southwest

On Saturday evening, the Guardian Angels held its second neighborhood patrol of Southwest. The first neighborhood patrol was on Saturday, November 22nd. Police Service Area (PSA) 104 requested the assistance of the Guardian Angels after recent assaults in SW, including the death of local resident Mark Blank back in October. Both neighborhood patrols met at Potomac Place Tower at 800 4th Street. Community members are welcomed to join the Guardian Angels during the neighborhood patrols - about 40 community members showed up at the November 22nd patrol. The Guardian Angels volunteer their time to help walk the streets and point out safety concerns during their neighborhood patrols. Other areas of the city where the Guardian Angels have been active lately include Trinidad, Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill East, and Brightwood.

On a related note, at last week's SWNA meeting, Sgt. Brad Wagner from MPD stated that robberies have decreased by almost 50% in the past 30 days compared to a year ago, while burglaries have slightly increased during the same time period. Comments from local community list-servs express frustration with the growing crime problem in Southwest and PSA 104 has brought these concerns to light. In response, besides inviting the Guardian Angels on patrols, developers have increased lighting at neighborhood construction sites, MPD has increased foot patrols in problem areas, and a Juvenile Response Unit has been created, since most of these crimes are done by juveniles. We'll see if these measures will help decrease crime in the area.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Shuttle Bug is Coming!

The SW Action Team, a volunteer problem-solving team trained in 2006 by MPD's Policing for Prevention Division, reports that a Shuttle Bug service for residents living above I Street will be up and running by the week of December 8th. The Shuttle Bug is a temporary bus service that will allow residents to safely get around the construction zone at Waterfront Station since pedestrian access was blocked to the site back in November 2007. Once 4th Street is reopened by March 2010, the shuttle will discontinue service. There will be stops near the entrance to Safeway and the CVS/Bank of America trailer, however, there are Jersey barriers currently blocking the Safeway stop. Negotiations are underway to have those barriers removed in time for the debut of the shuttle service. Once the schedule, map, and routes are available, I'll post the information here, but I would imagine the bus will make a loop from M Street to 6th Street, to I Street, to 3rd Street, and back to M Street. The Shuttle Bug is financed by the DC Government, Waterfront Associates (the developers of Waterfront Station), and Fairfield Residential (developers of The View at Waterfront).

Progress at Waterfront Station

Gordon Fraley, the project manager of Waterfront Station, gave a progress report at Monday's SWNA meeting. Currently, the 3rd floor is being poured at the site and the two office buildings should be topped off by February/March of 2009. By next August, the facades will be up at the Shalom Baranes-designed buildings. Both of the buildings will have a terracotta facade, similar to Monument Realty's office building under construction at Half Street - another Shalom Baranes-designed project near Nationals Park. Since the transfer of the 4th & I Street park to the DC Government from NPS occurred a couple weeks ago, the development team can reconnect 4th Street from I Street to M Street. The reconstructed portion of 4th Street will reopen before March 1, 2010, since the street must be reopened before DCRA and the DC Office of Tax & Revenue move into their new office space at Waterfront Station. By May 2010, the new Safeway should be open.




This is a rendering of the new SW Safeway, courtesy of Vornado.



Here's the exterior of the MVT Safeway.


The new SW Safeway may include a Starbucks and a dry cleaners, similar to the MVT Safeway. The SW Safeway Starbucks would be the 5th Starbucks to open in Southwest during the past few years. The other four Starbucks stores are at Capital Gallery (600 Maryland Avenue), The Portals (1201 Maryland Avenue), the Holiday Inn (550 C Street), and the Small Business Administration building at Federal Center SW (409 3rd Street). It would be the first SW store to locate south of the SE-SW Freeway.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Old SoCap Photos

DDOT has started compiling old photos of streets and buildings in the District. I found a couple of photos of South Capitol Street from the 1950s. The first photo of SoCap is a northbound perspective towards the Capitol Building at the intersection of South Capitol and what is currently Washington Avenue. This photo was taken in 1950.


The second photo is a southbound perspective of SoCap taken back in 1957. It looks like the photo was taken near the intersection with N Street. In the distance is the old viaduct that led to the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.



Back in the summer of 2007, the viaduct was removed during the "extreme makeover" of SoCap and the bridge undertaken by DDOT. Take a look at JDLand for details on the transformation of the South Capitol Street corridor (or possibly Taxation Without Representation Street) that took place in the lead-up to the opening of Nationals Park this spring.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Tree "Grows" in Southwest

The empty lot at 222 M Street where St. Matthew's Lutheran Church is planning to build a new sanctuary and apartments (see prior post) will soon become a Christmas tree lot this holiday season. Starting on Monday, December 1st, Christmas trees will be on sale 7 days a week, so us Southwesters will have a local spot to get our trees this year! Here's the schedule:

Monday - Friday: 3:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Prices range from $48 for 5-6 ft trees to $67 for 7-8 ft trees. If you're interested in pre-ordering a tree, contact St. Matthew's at 202-484-3189, or send an email to stmatthewsdc@hughes.net. Seniors living in the neighborhood get free delivery!

Will The Southwester Cease to Exist?

After more than 40 years of providing news about the Southwest community, it was announced at tonight's SWNA meeting that The Southwester may no longer exist in its current print newspaper format due to financing issues. Marge Maceda, President of SWNA, said at tonight's monthly meeting that advertising revenue has dropped to a point that the newspaper is now operating in the red. The Southwester has a current circulation of about 12,000 and monthly printing costs average $2,500. Local businesses are the main source of advertising for the paper, but since several businesses have relocated as redevelopment comes to the community, advertising revenue has dropped. Also, the long-time Editor-in-Chief of The Southwester is retiring, so a new editor is needed to keep the newspaper going. Maceda stated that the options for The Southwester are the following: keep the paper as it is; make the newspaper an online publication until advertising revenue increases; or end The Southwester and negotiate with the Hill Rag to dedicate a certain amount of space each month to cover Southwest issues. A few audience members volunteered to help keep the newspaper afloat - including an interim editor-in-chief, ad solicitor, and assistance with creating a business plan for the paper. I will post throughout the week on other topics from the meeting, but most of the topics have recently been covered in this blog, including the Southwest zoning study, the closure of the 9th Street bridge, and an update on Waterfront Station.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Southwest News

- In today's Real Estate Biznow, there is a snippet about the mayor's press conference last Friday at Nationals Park, where he touted the progress at development projects along the Anacostia River and the Washington Channel over the past year, including securing public financing for infrastructure improvements at the Southwest Waterfront, demolishing the old Waterside Mall to make way for Waterfront Station, and continued work on the environmental impact analysis for the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

- DCMud reports that PN Hoffman, one of the development partners responsible for the redevelopment of the SW Waterfront, may bring a Yes! Organic Market to the waterfront. A Yes! Organic Market recently opened at Union Row, another PN Hoffman project located just north of 14th & U Street, NW. The scale model pictured above is the central portion of the new SW Waterfront, which is the first section of the waterfront that will be redeveloped. The tree-lined street on the left side of the photo is 7th Street. See my prior post from September which explains each phase of the redevelopment.

December Issue of The Southwester is Available

Here's a link to December's issue of The Southwester, a monthly newspaper dealing with local SW issues and events published by SWNA. Thank you, SWNA, for adding a link to SWTLQTC (OK, so that acronym doesn't sound that great, I'm still working on an abbreviation) to your site!

Monday, November 17, 2008

9th Street Bridge to Close for a Year

For those of you who use the 9th Street tunnel as a short cut to the Southwest Waterfront, DDOT released a traffic advisory that the 9th Street bridge over I-395 will be closed starting today for the next 360 days. From the traffic advisory: "The project will make the bridges safer and more aesthetically pleasing. The concrete bridge deck on the 9th Street Bridge will be replaced, including a new walkway and staircase to Frontage Road at L’Enfant Plaza. The work will also include the replacement of the bridge bearings, structural repairs to the 10th Street Bridge beams, new roadway lighting, milling and resurfacing of the approach pavement and re-painting the exterior girders on the bridges. DDOT will also repair the roof slab of a DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) pumping station that is beneath 9th Street." While the 9th Street bridge will be closed, the 10th Street bridge will remain open for most of the construction period. The above photo (courtesy of DDOT) shows the SE-SW Freeway around the year 1970. The white road in the left-center portion of the photo is 10th Street, which was still under construction at the time. Above 10th Street is 9th Street and its ramps to the freeway.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

MVT Safeway Photos

Last weekend I took a trip to the MVT Safeway and snapped some photos. The new urban lifestyle Safeway, located at CityVista on the corner of 5th Street & L Street, NW, is a model of what our SW Safeway may look like once it opens in 2010. The new SW Safeway will be 55,000 SF on the ground floor of the east office building under construction at Waterfront Station. The MVT Safeway is the same size and includes a Starbucks and a dry cleaners. As you can see from the following photos, the ceilings are much higher than the current SW Safeway, which makes the store feel more spacious.

This photo shows a fruit display near the main entrance to the store, including organic fruits.


The MVT Safeway has a bakery on-site and offers a variety of baked goods for sale.


They also sell beer and wine at the MVT Safeway, which the current SW Safeway doesn't offer.



The MVT Safeway also has a large meat section, a nut bar, and a cafe, but my favorite feature is self check out!


2010 can't come soon enough if this is what we will get at the new SW Safeway. In the meantime, the MVT Safeway is open and just a short drive away.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Monument Realty Pulls Out of Randall School Project

From today's Washington Business Journal (available for subscribers only): "In other news, Monument has pulled out of an agreement with the Corcoran Gallery of Art to redevelop D.C.’s Randall School in Southwest into apartments and 80,000 square feet of studio, exhibition and classroom space. 'The financial backing no longer existed,' but 'the partnership dissolved in an amenable manner and only ended due to an unfortunate set of circumstances,' Jocelyn File Adamoli, the Corcoran’s director of special projects, said in a statement. The contract does expose Monument to some liability for pulling out, but Adamoli declined to release any details. The gallery did say, however, that it does not plan to sue Monument. With its city approvals already complete, the Corcoran is meeting with other prospective developers and hopes to have a new development partner named by the first quarter of next year, Adamoli said." Before the Corcoran purchased the Randall School, it served as the Millennium Arts Center and a homeless shelter. Currently, the building's windows are boarded up and a security guard patrols the school complex. Hopefully the Corcoran will be able to find another development partner, but since financing is hard to come by these days for most developers, this site may stay vacant for a while. Rendering is courtesy of Monument Realty.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Constitution Center Update

In Tuesday's Biznow, there was an article about the progress being made at Constitution Center, located at 7th & D Street. David Nassif Associates is in the process of a $275 million renovation after the US DOT moved out in 2007. Construction is being led by Davis Construction and SmithGroup architects. The building has been stripped to its frame and is being rebuilt, with renovations scheduled to be complete by early 2010. As you can see from the above photo I took back in mid-October, most of the curtain wall has been installed along 7th Street. An entrance to L'Enfant Plaza Metro is located at the site and reopened on July 1st of this year - one year after renovations began. The article describes the superlatives involved with this construction project: "Largest privately owned office building in DC - by about 200%. 1.4M SF above ground, 690k below. Largest privately owned parking garage in DC. Largest private office building renovation in the US to be LEED Gold (pending). Most energy efficient office building in the District." A private one-acre courtyard will be built as well. Constitution Center is currently available for lease, but since it's being built as a Level IV security-rated facility, it will most likely attract federal tenants. Too bad no ground-floor retail is planned at this massive office complex, but mixing commoners and secure tenants wouldn't fly at a Level IV facility.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Election Day!

I got back from England in time to vote, which I did this morning. If you haven't done so yet, PLEASE VOTE! I'll start posting again about SW by tomorrow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zoning Analysis of SW to Begin in January

The DC Office of Planning will kick off their analysis of zoning in Southwest in January 2009 with a community-wide public meeting. It was originally scheduled to begin in late Summer, but apparently has been delayed. Read my post from July about this topic.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Street Closures for Marine Corps Marathon

The Marine Corps Marathon will be held tomorrow and according to this traffic advisory from DDOT, several streets will be closed, including many in SW. Here are the list of streets that will be closed in SW during the marathon from 4am to as late at 1:30pm:
- West Potomac Park
- East Potomac Park (Access to Golf Course and Tennis Courts will be Available)
- Maine Avenue, SW from East Basin Drive to Independence Avenue
- Independence Avenue, SW from Maine Avenue to Ohio Drive
- Ohio Drive, SW between Independence Avenue and Lincoln Circle
- Lincoln Circle from Ohio Drive, SW to 23rd Street, NW
- 23rd Street, NW from Lincoln Circle to Constitution Avenue
- Constitution Avenue, NW from 23rd Street to 15th Street
- 15th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Independence Avenue, SW
- 17th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Independence Avenue, SW
- Madison Drive, NW from 14th Street to 3rd Street
- 3rd Street, NW from Pennsylvania Ave, NW to Maryland Ave., SW
- Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from 3rd Street to E. Capitol Circle
- 1st Street from Pennsylvania Ave., NW to Maryland Ave., SW
- Maryland Avenue, SW from S. Capitol Circle to 3rd Street
- Jefferson Drive, SW from 3rd Street to 14th Street
- 14th Street, SW from Jefferson Drive to northbound HOV lanes
- HOV lanes from 14th Street, SW to HOV ramp at S. Eads Street

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scenes from Southwest

Here's a photo of a couple of bicyclists riding along M Street near Tiber Island on a recent Saturday morning.



This next photo is of the Francis Case Memorial Bridge, which crosses over the Washington Channel. Wouldn't it be cool if as a part of the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront that the bridge was lit up at night like some of the causeway bridges in Miami?

Here's a peek at a part of the SW waterfront from Banneker Overlook. In the distance you can see East Potomac Park and way off in the distance is the masonic temple in Alexandria and the control tower at Reagan National Airport.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Updated Waterfront Station Photos

Here are some updated photos of Waterfront Station I took back on October 11th. The first photo shows a SUV in the middle of the right-of-way of 4th Street, which should be reopened for the first time since the 1960s when the first phase of construction is complete in 2010.





The next photo is of construction on the west side of 4th Street.




This next photo is of the east side of 4th Street. It appears that construction is occurring a little faster on the east side of the street, since columns are already visible rising from the 1st floor.





The last photo is of the current Safeway, as seen through the Waterfront-SEU Metro entrance canopy.






A new urban lifestyle Safeway will be built as a part of phase one of construction, similar to the new Safeway that recently opened in Mount Vernon Triangle. I went to the new Safeway for the first time over the weekend and despite its awkward layout, it is light years better than our SW Safeway. The next time I'm at the MVT Safeway I'll take some photos, to give an idea of what our new Safeway may look like in 2010.